Josef Stalin


Who: Russian revolutionary dictator.

What: General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Part of the Soviet Union 1922-1952.

Where: Born Josef Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili in modern-day Georgia, led the Soviet Union.

Why: Famous for his brutality, as well as leading the Soviet Union through the Second World War and the early stages of the Cold War.

When: Born 18 December 1878, died 5 March 1953.

“One death is a tragedy, one million is a statistic” – Josef Stalin

Josef Stalin has gone down in history as a very, very bad man. But not all he did was bad. He industrialised a largely agrarian Russia using Five-Year Plans and did what he thought was right in implementing a purer form of communism that his predecessor, Lenin and his NEP. He also, with the help of some brilliant generals and a steamroller of an army, edged Hitler in a slogger of a death match on the Eastern Front of World War Two, the Russian army arguably the most important card in the Allies’ deck during the war, pushing the battered German army all the way to Berlin and forcing surrender. However, he also purged millions from his army (right before the war), forcing a complete shakedown and re-evaluation once the Germans invaded, and sent millions to die in the gulags, or forced labour camps. His legacy is that of a murderer and a dictator, and yet interestingly, despite probably killing more people than Hitler, still features as a Russian leader in Sid Meier’s Civilization IV.

Further reading:

Stalin at the Allied Tehran Conference in 1943.


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